I had seen a decent amount of Hiroshima during my 2017 trip to Japan, so in 2019 I used it mainly as a base for a day trip out of town. A tram brought me to Hiroshima Station and there I got on a shinkansen heading east.
The shinkansen took me to Fukuyama and there I transferred to a local train that brought me to the town of Onomichi. Built on the slopes of mountains that run down to the Seta Inland Sea, Onomichi is about halfway between Hiroshima and Okayama, and has been home to many influential Japanese authors. During World War 2 the town suffered only minimal damage and consequently many of its historic sites have survived to this day. Among those historic treasures are 33 temples and I had come to Onomichi to follow a path that connects most of them.
I began the Onomichi Temple Walk at Jikoji Temple, which is the traditional starting point of the route. If you look at a map of the temple walk this is actually temple #2, but most people start here because temple #1 is a bit far off from the rest of the temples. Jikoji Temple is probably best known for the large stone gate at its entrance.
The path connecting the temples of Onomichi snakes through the town, going up and down the slopes of the mountains. A majority of the 33 temples are directly on the route but some of them require you to detour off the path. I should also note that while the route is fairly well-marked in most places, there were a few times when I wasn’t 100% sure if I was going the right way. Most of the individual temples are small, so don’t expect tons of grandeur when visiting Onomichi, but the appeal of doing the temple walk is in wandering around the narrow lanes and old roads of the city while visiting lots of temples in rapid succession. Some temples buildings are open for visitors to take a look inside while others are closed, but I remember just about all them would have a multi-language informational box outside where you could push a button and a narrator would tell you the name and the history of the temple you were looking at.
After a couple hours I ended up at Onomichi’s famous 3-story pagoda that overlooks the town. This pagoda is part of Ten-neiji Temple (temple #9 on the temple walk) and you’ll see it on just about any tourism advertisement for the city. At the time that I visited the pagoda wasn’t open to the public, but the spot where the pagoda stands is very photogenic and I recommend it to anyone visiting Onomichi.
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